What missing velocity? Aroldis Chapman hits 102.6 mph after taking four days off

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Aroldis Chapman had everyone worried last week when his triple-digit fastball dripped all the way into the low-90s, leading even teammates to publicly question his health.

However, after being shut down for four days by the Reds he returned to the mound last night looking like his usual overpowering self against the Pirates, albeit in a mop-up role.

Chapman tossed a scoreless ninth inning in a 9-3 loss and MLB.com’s pitch-fx system tracked his average fastball at 100.3 miles per hour.

Not quite the 104-106 mph range that created so many headlines last season, but he topped out at 102.6 mph and clearly the time off did Chapman’s velocity some good. In fact, the one slider Chapman threw last night registered at 91.5 mph, which isn’t far off from where his fastball was at last week.

Dustin Pedroia going back on injured list

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Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.

Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.

Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.

I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.

It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.